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A couple of comments on David Stern’s quotes re: the 2003-07 NBA betting scandal

The former NBA Commissioner is featured in an interview by Nathan Rush for Athlon Sports (published 12/20/16).

I am primarily interested in this exchange (emphases mine):

How did former referee Tim Donaghy’s conviction of illegally betting on games that he officiated influence your opinion on gambling in sports?

Interestingly enough, I viewed the Donaghy thing as a black swan because the Las Vegas infrastructure didn’t pick it up, and even our post-event analysis didn’t come to any particular conclusion. But it did influence me in the context of coming to better understand what Las Vegas does, and how that might be amplified to help all sports leagues that are concerned about betting.

  1. “…the Las Vegas infrastructure didn’t pick it up.”  This is only partly true at best.  For the 2003-04, 04-05, and 05-06 NBA seasons, it is likely the case most if not all Las Vegas sportsbooks were unaware of Donaghy’s on-court behavior which resulted in his off-court betting success on games he officiated.  However, by or during the 2006-07 season all sorts of sportsbooks – in Las Vegas and offshore – were aware of the action on games officiated by Donaghy.  As I detail in Gaming the Game: The Story Behind the NBA Betting Scandal and the Gambler Who Made It Happen(Barricade, 2011), the remarkable betting line movement alone on Donaghy-officiated games raised red flags among many parties including sportsbooks.
  1. “…our post-event analysis didn’t come to any particular conclusion.”  This topic could consume hours and fill a small book.  For starters, the public has never been privy to what the NBA studied or learned.  The NBA’s much-publicized “Pedowitz Report” was fatally-flawed from the start (see, e.g., hereand here), largely because they were denied access to all sorts of interview subjects and data.  There was also a confidential assessment conducted for the NBA the public has never seen.  Furthermore, many NBA betting scandal investigators have always maintained the league was never going to conduct – much less accept – a study which concluded the NBA knew or should have known about Donaghy’s on-court actions to further his bets.  They argue such a conclusion would have resulted in significant litigation by many injured parties (e.g., owners, teams’ shareholders, general managers, coaches and staffs, players, ticket-holders).

Some may recall David Stern was asked specifically about Gaming the Game while he was commissioner, and that situation is detailed here [Note: what I posted in February 2011 remains true today – the NBA and the NBRA have never spoken with me about my findings].

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